Are we wasting our Mormonism?

May 26, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 2:08 am   Category: Personal Revelation

What is Mormonism giving us that we cannot get elsewhere? There are lots of wonderful benefits to being Mormon but very few of those benefits are unique to our religion. Consider this list of non-unique benefits:

The Book of Mormon and other modern scriptures – Sorry, not unique. These can be found in other churches besides the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
A wonderful family-friendly culture – Not unique.
A community of devout and faithful Christians to associate with (aka our loving ward family) – Not unique.
The blessing associated with tithes and offerings – Not unique. The blessings of tithes and offerings can be had by anyone in any Church as far as I can tell.
The Blessings of the Word of Wisdom – Not unique. Lots of groups adhere to better and stricter health standards than we do.
The Law of Chastity and other high moral standards – Not unique.
Powerful preaching from the scriptures by our leaders as inspired by the Holy Ghost – Not unique. Have you heard some of the sermons pastors from other faiths give? They can teach the truth by the Spirit too.
Home and visiting teaching – Not unique. Other churches make regular home visits too.
Family Home Evening – Not unique. Other groups advocate a Family Night.
A Lay Ministry – Not unique.

The list could go on, but I think you get the point. So then what is unique about Mormonism?

Well, it starts with Authority. What does that do? It allows us to bind things on earth that may remain bound in heaven for one thing. It also allows us to administer saving ordinances and give one another heavenly gifts. What kind of ordinances? Baptism, priesthood, and temple ordinances. What kind of gifts? The Gift of the Holy Ghost and endowments given us in the temple. Authority also allows us to be led by living prophets today.

But which of these things are actual benefits to us in our daily lives? I’m going on record to say that the fundamental benefit of Mormonism in our daily lives is the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Having modern prophets and temples is wonderful, but how would those things be without the Gift of the Holy Ghost to connect us directly to God? It is the Gift of the Holy Ghost that allows us to consistently have powerful and confirming spiritual witnesses in temples and listening prophets. It is that gift that allows us to be different. It is that gift that allows us to have regular, daily, even constant inspiration and revelation if we take full advantage of it. It is that gift that allows us to be a prophets, seers, and revelators within out own spheres and stewardships. (And it is that gift that powers the repeating four part pattern that will lead to our exaltation.)

So getting back to my title to this post – Are we wasting our Mormonism? I say that if we are not receiving revelation and inspiration from God on a regular basis then the answer is yes. If we are not exercising the gifts of the spirit regularly then the answer is yes. We can get the other good things the Church provides in other places. But we cannot get the Gift of the Holy Ghost elsewhere. If we are not utilizing this gift then we are wasting it. If we are wasting this gift then we are wasting our Mormonism.

And while we like to focus our energies on molehills, mountains like this subject seem to get little attention. Why is that?

20 Comments »

  1. “The list could go on, but I think you get the point. So then what is unique about Mormonism?”

    It all boils down to: Jello recipes.

    Comment by Speaking Up — May 26, 2005 @ 7:29 am

  2. I’d argue that even that is not that unique. I still believe that people can have the Holy Ghost with them on a daily basis without the “Gift”. Joseph Smith without the official Gift of the Holy Ghost communed with angels, saw God and Jesus, and was led to the Book of Mormon. There are homes that I had been in as a missionary that really had the Spirit and yet they were non-members without the “Gift”. They had that Spirit with them daily. When did Christianity fall and the authority to give the Gift of the Holy Ghost leave? Was it after the apostles were all killed or as it after the Nicene Creed? How about after the Church split up between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic? Do you really believe that no one has had the daily companionship of the Holy Ghost with them since 500AD or whatever date you believe the authority was taken away until the Restoration? Those Christians believed. They had the Holy Ghost with them. I’ve read what some of those Christians wrote who didn’t have the official “gift”. Some of them were more “Christian” and more filled with the Holy Ghost then most of today’s Mormons.

    I am of the opinion that receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost is really more of a 2nd cleaning. The baptism being the first and the Holy Ghost doing the purifying through fire. The story of cleaning a needle comes to mind. Where you use water to clean it and fire to purify. When you think how Christianity in general differs from other religions, it’s the Holy Ghost that separates it from the rest. It reaffirms the faith. Christianity dies without the Holy Ghost. From the time the authority was taken away from the Catholic Church, without members having daily companionship of the Holy Ghost, Christianity would had dwindled to nothing by the time Joseph Smith was born.

    Mormonism is the Restoration of the whole truth. Since its been restored, it has existed before. It’s unique claim however is that it is the only church presently that is The Restored Church with the Whole Church. How does that uniquely change the member’s lives? We know more fully who our God is. And from that we can have a deeper relationship with Him. The Priesthood holders have official authority to act in the name of God. How many churches have as many men as we do who are trained and know how to use the Priesthood in giving blessings, etc.? How many churches use oil sanctified for blessings?

    Of course, to enjoy any of the blessings and uniqueness of the Restored church requires that first principle: Faith. And what I’ve seen is that as a whole the members have little faith. I’ve participated in a Priesthood blessing before that had no faith in it. In fact, that seems more the rule than the exception. I’m sure you’ve received some of those yourself. Where the say what you want to hear, “that you may be healed”, to saying something mundane like, “the doctor may be blessed to discover what’s wrong…”. What had people thought of Jesus if he said to the blind, “may a doctor be guided in finding out what’s wrong”. When I go to a Priesthood holder for a blessing, I want him to be honest with me if he is not prepared to give one. If he is prepared, that he truly listens and tells me what the Father wants me to know. And to do these things in FULL FAITH knowing that the words the Father speaks to me through him WILL COME TO PASS. What is being wasted in Mormonism is our Priesthood. And its being wasted by the lack of faith. We should see all the signs mentioned in the New Testament. There should be miraculous healing throughout the church.

    Comment by Speaking Up — May 26, 2005 @ 7:45 am

  3. I think you forgot one very important element of our faith in your list: the priesthood, i.e., the authority to speak and act in the name of God and to bind and seal on earth as well as in heaven. This IS unique to our church. Also, I would argue that the uniqueness of Mormonism is having all of the things on your list simultaneously. Other religions may have one or a few. None has ALL.

    Comment by Eric Soderlund — May 26, 2005 @ 8:55 am

  4. I don’t buy that Modern Revelation and a living prophet isn’t unique. Some protestants belive in modern revelation; but it is a very low brow, like what we consider individual inspiration by the Spirit…not God talking directly to man.

    Comment by lyle stamps — May 26, 2005 @ 9:53 am

  5. Lyle: I don’t buy that Modern Revelation and a living prophet isn’t unique.

    I completely agree. Did I or someone else claim otherwise?

    Eric: I think you forgot one very important element of our faith in your list: the priesthood, i.e., the authority to speak and act in the name of God and to bind and seal on earth as well as in heaven.

    Actually, authority was the first thing on my list of unique things…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 26, 2005 @ 10:52 am

  6. Speaking Up,

    You make some interesting points. I’ll have to consider them more and maybe respond in greater detail later. But at the outset I must say I am uncomfortable with the idea you are presenting that the Gift of the Holy Ghost is really only a cleansing at the time of baptism. I am much more inclined to agree with Elder McConkie. The D&C Sunday School manual quoted him by saying:

    Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve compared the manifestations of the Holy Ghost that a person can receive before baptism to flashes of lightning that “[blaze] forth in a dark and stormy night.” He compared the gift of the Holy Ghost that a person receives after baptism to “the continuing blaze of the sun at noonday, shedding its rays on the path of life and on all that surrounds it” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 262).

    While God can manifest himself to prophets like Joseph in sufficient ways to bring about the Restoration, and He manifests himself in flashes to anyone in the world who seeks with sincerity and faith; it is only through the Gift of the Holy Ghost that we can always have his Spirit to be with us.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 26, 2005 @ 11:04 am

  7. Geoff,

    Sorry about that. Guilty of not reading the entire post. Mea culpa. Maxima culpa.

    Comment by Eric Soderlund — May 26, 2005 @ 11:20 am

  8. Ha! No worries Eric. That’s the price I pay for writing posts that are just too long I guess.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 26, 2005 @ 11:26 am

  9. Speaking up,
    The sacrament prayer should remind us that it is only through the making and keeping of baptismal covenants that we can have his spirit to be with us. Only through batism and confirmation by those in authroity can we have the gift of the holy ghost. I wouldn’t however, say that this is not a second clensing. It is, in fact, the gift of the holy ghost–the constant companionship of a member of the godhead–that allows us the opportunity to cleanse our lives, to experience the baptism of fire that sanctifies us by showing us our sins and cleansing us of them as we repent and re-affirm our baptismal commitments.
    “When did Christianity fall and the authority to give the Gift of the Holy Ghost leave? Was it after the apostles were all killed or as it after the Nicene Creed? How about after the Church split up between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic?”
    I don’t know at what point the authority was lost, but if it wasn’t, why the rstoration?
    “Do you really believe that no one has had the daily companionship of the Holy Ghost with them since 500AD or whatever date you believe the authority was taken away until the Restoration?”
    Yes. Only the priesthood can give this gift. Theoretically, I guess someone could have recieved brief inspiration from the holy ghost every day of their lives, and perhaps they were more valiant at following the light they had than I am. And yet, only authority can perform the ordinances that will give us the constant companionship of the holy ghost.
    That’s why I vote for priesthood as the most important thing we have. It gives us the keys we need to access the gifts of God and administers the ordinances of salvation.

    Comment by Steve H — May 26, 2005 @ 12:34 pm

  10. Geoff: I’m just dense. The first item on your list:

    “The Book of Mormon and other modern scriptures – Sorry, not unique. These can be found in other churches besides the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”

    gave me that impression.

    Comment by lyle stamps — May 26, 2005 @ 12:48 pm

  11. Lyle,
    I agree. I didn’t see how anyone else has modern scripture–at least actual modern scripture, unless Geoff means splinter groups that still accept the Book of Mormon.

    Comment by Steve H — May 26, 2005 @ 2:06 pm

  12. The Moonies believe that the things written by the Rev. Moon constitute scripture in a similar way to how we accept the Book of Mormon. I think that this is what Geoff was getting at.

    Comment by John C. — May 26, 2005 @ 2:11 pm

  13. Mormonism is no one thing nor any one part but rather how all the parts fit together…

    Comment by Clark — May 26, 2005 @ 2:19 pm

  14. Regarding our scriptures not being unique: Actually, I was thinking (as Steve surmised) of the RLDS and all the other splinter groups when I made the comment about the Book of Mormon and other modern scriptures. I should have made that more clear.

    Clark,

    I agree that the combination of ingredients is very important, but my question in the post is whether there are any unique ingredients in the recipe that makes up Mormonism. Do have our own special sauce that cannot be found anywhere else? Obviously I feel the answer is “yes” and that it centers around the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the channels of constant revelation and dialogic communication with God that it allows us to have.

    If that really is true then our not receiving regular revelation and not participating in regular dialogic communication with God would constitue us wasting our Mormonism.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 26, 2005 @ 2:30 pm

  15. I saw it hinted at (binding), but not explicted stated: Temple Marriage

    Comment by Daylan Darby — May 26, 2005 @ 7:49 pm

  16. I agree with Speaking Up (Comment 2) that there are other Christians that enjoy the companionship of the Holy Spirit as much or more than many LDS do. SU has hit on a very important key, however, in the purifying/sanctifying power of the Spirit. While others also enjoy the companionship of the Spirit, there are specific things that LDS DO with the Gift of the Holy Ghost that ARE unique. Most importantly, the Spirit is integral to the LDS understanding of the Atonement and the path to Salvation.

    While “other” sincere Christians do enjoy the Spirit, they live their lives under the assumption that they have accepted Christ and they’re already “saved”. Their main purposes in seeking the Spirit, after being “saved”, are to enjoy the fellowship of God (to know of His love) and to bless the lives of believers and non-believers through healings, warnings, teaching, prophecies, etc.

    Since LDS don’t believe they can be instantly and permanently “saved”, they need the Gift of the Holy Ghost to know where they stand before God. It’s comforting to know that if you live your life in such a way that you have the companionship/approval of the Spirit, then you are also worthy to live in the presence of the other members of the Godhead.

    On the flip side, if you are familiar with how the Spirit’s presence feels and you know you aren’t currently experiencing that, then you can’t realistically think that you could live and feel comfortable in the presence of God. So, the Spirit is a “gauge” of how we are doing in honoring our baptismal covenant and when repentance is needed. We don’t have to be perfect as long as our overall focus is on staying in the same “zone” as the Spirit.

    I share some of the same frustrations as SU that LDS in this day and age don’t have near as many spiritual outpourings as they should, but even if we did, it wouldn’t be unique to the LDS church. If we were more careful to stay in the “zone” of the Spirit, there would be more healings, more personal revelation, more instances of being in the right place at the right time to share God’s love with those who don’t know where or how to find it.

    Comment by Brent — May 27, 2005 @ 1:08 am

  17. Thanks for the comment, Brent. I agree with your conclusions, though I have reservations about one of your assumptions along the way:

    there are other Christians that enjoy the companionship of the Holy Spirit as much or more than many LDS do.

    I agree. That is my complaint in this post, though. The Gift of the Holy Ghost means that we should be able to have the Holy Ghost with us always. One cannot experience that without this gift (at least that is the school of thought I believe). So while others may feel the spirit as much as LDS do it seems to me that is because they are doing more with less. Or maybe the LDS are really doing less with more. The latter is what I fear and that is an example of wasting our Mormonism.

    Your last paragragh illustrates this point quite well. I agree that we should cultivate the gifts of the Spirit more, get more revelations, prophesy more, and so on. Splendid Sun has been focusing on this topic as well from the perspective of comparing our lack of doing so today with the fact that Saints of the 19th century did employ these gifts. Since we don’t do that, I say we are largely wasting our Mormonism.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 27, 2005 @ 12:30 pm

  18. […] eally believe that if we are not receiving some form of regular revelation from God we are wasting our Mormonism. In fact, the message I get from the Book of Mormon is […]

    Pingback by Times & Seasons » Deny Not the Gifts of God — January 22, 2006 @ 5:22 pm

  19. Hi,
    I just curiously ended up here on your site…long story…but I just wanted to say that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are not “unique” to Mormons either. The Holy Spirit is here with us all and the gifts of the spirit are here for us all as well. There are (9) gifts of the spirit according to the Bible. I haven’t had time to read all you had to say, but people have been moving in these gifts since the day of Pentecost. Healing, word of knowledge, prophecy, etc. Although, I must clarify, people don’t do anything except have faith…the spirit does it all. There is nothing “unique” to any one group or the Mormons . All believers of Christ are of ONE (1) body and he is coming for ONE (1) bride. I personally believe that there are “believers” of almost “all” faiths. It is the acceptance of Christ which makes the ultimate difference. There are as many version of denominations as there are people, because no two people will agree on all things, but we must all believe on the salvation message of Christ. God Bless.

    Comment by Linda Rumfield — September 22, 2006 @ 11:01 am

  20. Thanks for stopping by Linda. I agree that the gifts of the spirit are in no way unique to Mormons.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 22, 2006 @ 12:04 pm

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